The United Nations has rejected suggestions that it suppressed a report critical of the way governments in the Middle East treat their citizens.
The report was meant to be released this month by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia, or ESCWA.
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According to a draft obtained by Al Jazeera, the report outlines a number of issues already discussed in popular media, including the suicide of fruit-seller Mohamed Bouazizi – that launched protests in Tunisia, and across the Arab world, in 2011 – and women in Saudi Arabia protesting about their country’s ban on female drivers.
But the UN has yet to officially release the report.
Several countries in the Middle East, such as Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia, have objected to its findings.
Egypt has reportedly disputed that President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown in 2013 in a military coup, while Israel has taken issue with the report’s descriptions of its treatment of occupied Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has argued against the report having any mention of its execution of Shia Muslim leader Nimr al-Nimr in January 2016.
Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN, explained why the UN has decided not to publish the report: “This is a report that was drafted by independent experts. The report itself will be published by the independent experts themselves.”
“The draft report calls on countries in the Middle East to reform their economies and security agencies, as well as do more to protect their citizens’ human rights,” Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan said, reporting from the UN.
“It looks like a proposal the UN would want to endorse on paper – but because of apparent pushback across the region, it’s letting others take the lead.”